Basic Specifications
Full model name: Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS80
Resolution: 20.30 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3 inch
(6.2mm x 4.6mm)
Lens: 30.00x zoom
(24-720mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 80 - 3200
Extended ISO: 80 - 6400
Shutter: 1/16000 - 30 sec
Max Aperture: 3.3
Dimensions: 4.4 x 2.7 x 1.6 in.
(112 x 69 x 42 mm)
Weight: 11.5 oz (327 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 04/2019
Manufacturer: Panasonic
Full specs: Panasonic ZS80 specifications

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20.30
Megapixels
30.00x zoom 1/2.3 inch
size sensor
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Panasonic ZS80 Review -- Now Shooting!

by Mike Tomkins
Preview posted 02/18/2019

Updates:
05/08/2019: First Shots posted

Panasonic's ZS-series camera line has a long history indeed, tracing its roots thru 2009's ZS3 and all the way back as far as the TZ1, way back in early 2006. Since then, the series has had several hallmarks: A long-zoom lens and a coat-pocket friendly design with a relatively affordable pricetag, with a new model in the series arriving each spring or thereabouts.

The ZS80 is a departure from that formula in only one respect: It's actually arriving almost two years after the previous model in the series, the ZS70. The slower release schedule is likely indicative of declining sales in the compact camera market, which has continued its downward trend in the face of the omnipresent cameraphone.

Relatively minor updates sustain the two-year old ZS70 for another generation

But while the ZS80 is the first ZS-series model in a decade or more to forego the annual release cycle, it is in other respects very much a ZS-series camera. (And more to the point, a ZS70 with only relatively minor upgrades.) Most features of this new model mirror those of the earlier camera, with improvements in just a few key areas: viewfinder resolution, buffer depths, wireless connectivity options and a few convenience features.

If you're familiar with the earlier ZS70, then, much of what follows is going to be a recap.

External styling is little-changed from the ZS70

Externally, you'd be very hard-put indeed to tell the ZS80 and ZS70 apart without comparing model numbers. There's been a very slight restyling of the top deck, and a couple of minor changes to screen printing. One of these was for better readability on the mode dial, and another to account for the new Zoom Compose Assist function, which takes over the button previously dedicated to the 4K Photo mode's Post Focus function.

We'd wager that Zoom Compose Assist will see much more use than did Post Focus, but if you don't need it yourself, you can customize the button to control another feature. There are three other similarly-customizable buttons on offer, too. External body dimensions are still preliminary, but look to be as close to those of the previous camera as to be indistinguishable. So, too, will be a scant 1.6% decrease in weight, loaded and ready to shoot. (The ZS80 now weighs 11.4 ounces (322g) in this condition.)

Imaging is little changed, but the buffer's bigger

The basic imaging pipeline of the ZS80 -- including a small 20.3-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch format MOS sensor, Venus Engine processor and 30x optical zoom lens -- is essentially the same as that of the earlier camera. So, too, is the burst capture rate of five frames per second with Depth from Defocus autofocus adjustment between frames, or 10 fps with focus locked from the first frame. Really, the only change of note here is an increase in buffer depths, from a maximum of 10 raw frames to manufacturer specs for the ZS70 to as many as 20 raw frames in the new model.

The zoom lens carries Leica DC Vario-Elmar branding, and has a maximum aperture which starts from f/3.3 at the 24mm-equivalent wide-angle, falling to a rather dim f/6.4 before reaching the 720mm-equivalent telephoto position. Its design has 12 elements in 9 groups. A five-axis hybrid optical image stabilizer with optional high-strength active mode is also included.

Zoom Compose Assist will help when framing at the telephoto end

Although the lens itself is unchanged, there is as mentioned previously a new Zoom Compose Assist function. When you lose track of your subject in the viewfinder or on the rear-panel LCD, this can quickly help you regain your bearings by switching to a wide-angle view before returning to your original zoom level once more.

That's potentially going to be huge news given the powerful telephoto of the ZS80's built-in lens. The further you zoom in, the easier it will be to slip off your subject, but with Zoom Compose Assist, recapturing them should prove quick and easy. (And be achievable without having to zoom back in to match your prior framing yourself.)

Higher resolution electronic finder has a larger viewfinder image

Speaking of the viewfinder, it too is on the list of updates for the Panasonic ZS80. The viewfinder is now based around a higher resolution (and just fractionally larger) 0.21-inch, 2,330k dot equivalent panel compared to the 0.2-inch 1,166k dot equivalent panel of its predecessor. We believe it still uses a field-sequential LCD panel, hence the "equivalent" dot rating.

The viewfinder image has a manufacturer-claimed 0.53x magnification, up from 0.46x on the ZS70. An eye sensor is provided to enable or disable the finder and LCD automatically as you bring the camera to your eye, then lower it again.

The same touchable, tiltable selfie-friendly display as before

The LCD panel, meanwhile, is unchanged. It's still mounted on a hinge that allows it to be flipped upwards by 180 degrees, allowing for selfie shooting from in front of the camera. And in a nice touch, flipping the LCD all the way up will automatically enable Self Shot mode. (Pre-capture options include skin smoothing and face slimming functions, while post-capture you can go even further with tools like teeth whitening and makeup retouch available. You can also take 4K and panorama selfies.)

Resolution is 1,040k dots with a 3.0-inch diagonal. As in the ZS70, the Panasonic ZS80's monitor is overlaid with a capacitive touch-screen like that used in your smartphone, letting it serve double-duty as an input device.

4K video capture gets a new cinematic frame rate

The ZS70 before it features 4K video capture capability with a maximum frame rate of 30 frames per second, and the ZS80 matches this while also adding a more cinematic 24 fps capture rate.

The ZS80's 4K videos are saved in MP4 format, while its Full HD clips are in either AVCHD Progressive or MP4 format. (120 fps high-speed video is available at HD resolution, and the ZS80 also offers time-lapse and stop-motion video functions.) A 4K Photo mode is also provided as in the ZS70, but with some extensions. This mode allows you to shoot 4K video clips at 30 fps, then quickly locate and extract high-res 8.3-megapixel frames.

4K Photo mode gets a couple of important upgrades

So what's new for 4K Photo in the ZS80? Well, there's a new Auto Marking function which helps you quickly find frames where the image has obviously changed from previous ones, making lighter work of finding the best frames. And a Sequence Composition function lets you freeze parts of the image frame where there's subject motion at regular intervals, creating one single shot where your subject's motion through the frame can be more easily analyzed.

Other 4K Photo functions retained from the ZS70 include bulk saving (lets you save 4K Photo frames en masse), Post Focus (lets you select the point of focus post-capture) and Focus Stacking (merges multiple images with variant focus to create a single image with greater depth of field.)

Wi-Fi is now supplemented by Bluetooth

The Panasonic ZS70 already offered a Wi-Fi radio with which to quickly transfer images to your smartphone or tablet. The ZS80 supplements this existing 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n (aka Wi-Fi 1 / 3 / 4) radio with a new Bluetooth one. Once paired, the always-on Bluetooth connection will let your smartphone communicate with the camera any time it needs to with minimal power consumption.

Once higher-speed communication is needed for transferring full-sized images and movies, then setup of a temporary Wi-Fi connection can be negotiated automatically via the Bluetooth radio. It also allows the camera to piggyback off your phone's GPS receiver for geolocation information, so your images can be tagged with their approximate capture location as they're captured.

A new Eco mode trades EVF framerate for battery life

The Panasonic ZS80 still supports in-camera battery charging via USB. It also offers the same 380-frame battery life with the main LCD, or 250 frames with the electronic viewfinder, as did the ZS70.

However, if you want to eke out a little bit more with the latter, a new Eco power mode has been added, which reduces the viewfinder refresh rate to 30 fps for a longer battery life. This should, says Panasonic, allow an extra 90 frames for a total of 340 frames on the electronic viewfinder.

Panasonic ZS80 pricing and availability

List pricing for the Panasonic ZS80 is set at US$450, the same pricepoint at which the previous couple of generations first launched. Black or silver body colors will be available starting from April 2019.

 

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